After completing a training on voting and the registration process, members of Vinfen’s Self-Advocacy Group are now focusing their advocacy efforts on encouraging people with disabilities to vote and make their voices heard. The group is comprised of people Vinfen serves who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and is led by Vinfen Director of Service Asela Jayasinghe.
Due to their strong history of advocating for the rights and needs of people with disabilities, and dedication to supporting their local community through volunteerism, the Self-Advocacy Group was chosen to receive Vinfen’s first training on voter advocacy.
The training was delivered by Vinfen Development and Special Events Coordinator Alex Yellin, who developed the Vinfen Voter Advocacy Guide and training plan with the aim of supporting the people Vinfen serves to register, vote, and address the issues that matter to them. The self-advocates learned about the voting process, including how to register, their rights on Election Day, and what to expect at the polls. Several individuals registered to vote during the training.
For Donald L., it was his first time registering to vote. “This is an opportunity I’ve never felt I had before, but now that I have it, I’m going to vote,” he said. He was especially excited to support his preferred candidate in the next presidential election.
Kim W. was thrilled to have the chance to register to vote during the training. “I want to vote because I want my voice to be heard,” she said. Armed with this knowledge on the intricacies of the voting process, the group has set their sights on supporting other people with disabilities to advocate for themselves by voting.
“I want to vote because I feel it’s time to be a part of the movement that supports people with disabilities,” said another member. He and his fellow group members have been working hard to connect people served by Vinfen and other people with disabilities in their communities with the resources they need to vote and advocate for themselves. But perhaps most importantly, they have gone above and beyond to provide encouragement and reminders about the importance of voting.
“I’ve been voting for a long time and I will never miss an election. I always vote,” said another self-advocacy group member. Another veteran voter, Deb T., echoed her enthusiasm for the importance of making your voice heard by submitting a ballot. “Of course, I vote! I want to be a part of it,” she said.